If you buy buttermilk for a recipe, and the rest of the quart always go bad before you find a way to use it, then, do what I do, and freeze the extras. Here’s the method that I’ve been using for years.
The Best Way to Freeze Buttermilk
While it’s perfectly fine to freeze buttermilk in its original container (with a cup or two of milk removed to allow for expansion), this leaves you having to thaw the entire jug every time you need buttermilk for a recipe, – which could take days – and will once again leave you with a large amount of buttermilk to either use up or refreeze.
Since most recipes call for a cup of buttermilk, or less, it’s far more convenient to freeze your buttermilk in small, pre-measured amounts. This allows you to grab just what you need, while drastically reducing thaw time.
Muffin pans and ice cube trays make this easy to do. Just measure how much liquid fits into a single ice cube compartment or muffin cup. Ice cube trays typically hold two Tablespoons, and muffin pans typically hold between 1/4-1/2 cup, but it’s good to know precisely what yours holds. Be sure to write the measurements down somewhere, so you’ll have them for future reference.
Then, fill the compartments with buttermilk, and pop the trays or pans in the freezer.
I stick my muffin pans or ice cube trays on a baking sheet. Then, carve out a level spot for it in the freezer, before I start pouring. This allows me to go straight from the counter to the freezer without any spills.
Once the buttermilk is fully frozen, pop the cubes out of the trays or pans, and transfer them to freezer bags. Label the bags with the contents and portion sizes, to avoid recipe mix ups.
If your ice cube tray holds two Tablespoons, like mine, here are the cube-to-cup conversions:
- 2 cubes = 1/4 cup
- 4 cubes = 1/2 cup
- 6 cubes = 3/4 cup
- 8 cubes =1 cup
How to Use Frozen Buttermilk
To use your frozen buttermilk, simply grab the number of cubes you need, and allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight. If you’re using them in a hot dish, like mashed potatoes or soup, just drop the frozen cubes straight into the dish; they’ll thaw as the dish cooks.
In a hurry? Then, heat the buttermilk in a small pan, or microwave it for 10 seconds at a time, until it thaws.
Freezing buttermilk causes the whey to separate from the solids. There’s no need to do anything about it, if you’re using it for cooking or baking. But, if you’re using your buttermilk to make salad dressing, or another uncooked dish, you’ll want to reincorporate them. This just requires a quick whirl in the blender.
Does Freezing Buttermilk Kill the Active Cultures?
Nope, the cultures become inactive when they’re frozen, but as soon as the buttermilk thaws they become active again. So, if you want to use your frozen buttermilk to make sour cream, cheese or another recipe that relies on the active cultures in the buttermilk, you can still do that. Just allow the buttermilk to thaw in the fridge (not the microwave), and you’re good to go.
The Shelf Life of Frozen Buttermilk
Frozen buttermilk is best used within three months, but it’ll keep indefinitely. Just squeeze the air out of your freezer bags, before you seal them, so your buttermilk doesn’t develop freezer burn, and it’ll keep, until you need it.
Uses for Buttermilk
If you just have a small amount of buttermilk to use up, consider using it to make a batch of homemade sour cream …
or buttermilk ice cream instead.
Switch to Powdered Buttermilk
If you never seem to have buttermilk when you need it, or you’re tired of having to buy a quart, when you only need a cup, consider switching to powdered buttermilk. Just reconstitute it with water to make as much, or as little, as you need, and there won’t be any waste. Easy!
I always keep a container on hand. Saco is the brand that I buy.